Towering scaffolding around the state Capitol will be the first indication that the biggest repair, refurbishment and remodel in the 96-year history of the landmark building is under way.
Many details of the project are yet to be worked out, but some facts are clear.
Overall funding will be $120 million under a bond measure that was given final approval Friday by the Oklahoma Legislature. The governor is expected to sign the measure.
“This is Step One in a long process to prepare our Capitol for another hundred years of state service,” said John Estus, spokesman for the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services. “It’s historic and long overdue, and now we can finally begin the good, difficult, necessary work to responsibly repair this building.”
This funding should be enough to do the major work that is needed on the crumbling exterior, leaky plumbing and the outdated electrical system, Capitol architect Duane Mass said. An earlier proposal had called for a $160 million bond measure.
“We can get very, very close,” Mass said. “Of course we’ll have to prioritize, but we should be able to make great strides. And I do firmly believe we will be able to get the major health, safety and welfare issues solved, which of course is of great concern.”
Exterior work could begin as soon as late this summer or early fall and interior work should begin next year, Estus said. Contractors will be selected through a public bidding process. An oversight committee will be in charge of approving the project plan.
“The outside can be started at almost any time,” Mass said. “The outside could literally be started the day someone said ‘Go.’”
Work on the inside of the building, on the other hand, will have to wait for an extensive planning process that will be overseen by the committee and will include input from elected officials, agencies and others.
“The first thing that many people will see when the outside is undertaken is restricted access around the building of course and then a great deal of scaffolding that will continually move,” Mass said. “There will be lifts coming up and down, there will be a great deal of activity around the outside.”
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